back to article Government slashes final Eurofighter order

The UK is buying only 40 out of an expected 88 aircraft as part of the third tranche of orders for the controversial Eurofighter Typhoon. The 40 planes will cost £3bn - 24 are replacing RAF planes which have already been sold and sent to Saudi Arabia, and 16 are actual extra planes. The first aircraft should go into active …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the worst possible move

    The military needs either more flexible aircraft or investment in the Eurofighter to make it more flexible. I doubt the government has the cash for either at the moment (bailing out banks and keeping all the out of work on the breadline is an expensive business). I hope this means more Reapers though as these actually seem to be useful, effective and cost effective (perhaps we could give them a Playstation or Wii style interface and let the unemployed take on the forces of evil).

  2. Tom Chiverton 1

    Look harder

    You "can't see any reason why those penalties won't apply again now" ? How about because it's not been 'cancelled', just 'scaled back' ?

  3. Youngdog
    Thumb Down

    "No more love for outdated planes"

    That really is a bit unfair. Although the Typhoon project has had its setbacks and took far too long to get off the ground (pun intended) it is still a very advanced and formidable military aircraft.

    I agree that the modern battlefield has changed beyond all recognition and our RAF boys are unlikely to have to engage in air-to-air dogfights with MIGs but I do believe that in the 21st century, with its phenomenal climb rate and multi-role weapons platform, it is the fighter of choice when blowing hijacked passenger jets out of the sky before they crash into this nations office blocks.

  4. PaulK

    Thatcherite open market rules will prevail...

    ...and the RAF will be equipped with the superior Su35 for a fraction of the price.

  5. The First Dave
    Dead Vulture


    I do love the way that the reporter implies that these planes are obsolete, and backs it up by saying that the Russians never got around to building anything as good as this.

    So which is it?

  6. DS 1

    More garbage

    The UK GDP on defense is small, and has shrunk again and again as politicians, no wait, leftists in the Labour party government throw the armed servic es to the wolves.

    Its committed to two wars, the length of which have beenlonger than WW2. In that time, almost no new proper weapon systems, platforms, or indeed very much else has been done.

    The RAF before Eurofighter was pitifully behind in technology and aircraft. Not only has the fleet carried on diminishing, but their air to air fighter now gets culled.

    In the meantime, The Merlin is behind and off target, and there is no whit in whitehall, and no balls either to setup a factory building Chinook licensed copies/versions.

    Never has so little been done by so (powerful) few, for soo long, and with the expectedly poor results.

    We are at war, and defense spending needs to double. Yes, flat out double. The navy needs new gear, the army need gear, the airforce needs gear. Continual stripping is not, and never was the answer.

    What next, cancel the F35 and carriers?

  7. /dev/null

    "provide an aircraft to dogfight Soviet jets over mainland Europe."

    Not that old nonsense again.... as far as the RAF is concerned, the Typhoon was, from the start, supposed to be dual-role; air-to-air *and* close air support. The former has taken precedence, but later upgrades should provide a wide variety of air-to-ground ordnance options.

  8. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Is this enough?

    Is 16 planes really enough to protect us from neighbours that put bottles of bleach in their bins?

    Could we perhaps donate our aluminium saucepans to allow more fighters to be built?

    Remember there is a war on!

  9. Linbox

    Where is Lewis?

    Has he been sacked?

  10. Simon Ball

    @The First Dave

    Those two statements are not mutually exclusive. Obsolescence does not occur just because something better at the job comes along, but also because the job itself is deemed unnecessary. In Eurofighter’s case, it’s the latter. Eurofighter may well be superlative at the job it was designed for - dogfighting a conventionally-armed opponent over the skies of Europe – but that job is no longer necessary.

  11. Boris

    @The First Dave

    "I do love the way that the reporter implies that these planes are obsolete..."

    The article quite clearly states that Eurofighter was designed to dog fight Russian jets over Europe. This scenario is now very unlikely.

    "....and backs it up by saying that the Russians never got around to building anything as good as this"

    Really? Where in the article does it imply that?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: More Garbage..

    No worries.. we'll just outsource to India or China like we do with everything else. Nationalistic protectionism shouldn't stand in the way of progress after all. If we can trust foreign nationals with our personal, financial and medical records no reason why we can't trust them with the defense of our country.

  13. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Serves BAe right.....

    .... for not building them in Scotland. Then of course they'd be safe, just like the new aircraft carriers.

  14. Alex D


    you don't need a massively expensive and advanced (assuming the eurofighter can be called that, sic) fighter to take out a slow, weaponless commercial plane... heck, a guy on the ground with a stinger can do that! (kenya a few years ago anyone)?

    Save the cash, buy chinooks, reapers, and body armour. Save lives. Win wars.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Yes, lets cut back and relay on the French farmers, Spanish Fishing Fleet and Belgiam Chocolatiers to defend Britannians honour and blushes

    who elected this prime minister anyway?

    Where is Lewis, or does he write for the other side now?

  16. Badger_Boy

    The First Dave...

    "the Russians never got around to building anything as good as this.

    So which is it?"

    It can be both. No-one has ever built a supersonic bomber as good as the old B-58 Hustler, but as the environment it was designed to live in changed it became obsolete.

    It (and the Typhoon II) can be the best and yet be obsolete too.

  17. Martin 6 Silver badge

    @The First Dave

    So the eurofighter is the result of a cunning Soviet plot to get Britain to bankrupt itself by competing in an arms race that it backed out of?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Ya know what I think?

    This announcement comes a few days after El Reg informs us it is planning the test flight of what has to be the ultimate low-cost airborne stealth platform.

    Coincidence? Just how naive are you?

  19. Arms Control Poser


    Like hell was "the Typhoon was, from the start, supposed to be dual-role." It was designed as a no-compromise, pure air-to-air fighter, and represented to the public as such, from its inception right through to when 'sparse' air-to-ground capability began to be clumsily stuck on to the airframe for service in Afghanistan. It may be that, one day, it could usefully serve in this role: but to say that this was always the plan is just rewriting history.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Several times the West has decided that fighters were no longer necessary and been bit in the ass as a result. In case nobody has noticed, there a lot of other countries arming themselves right now.

    BTW -- Predators/Reapers can only operate with air superiority and no hostile SAM sites to speak of.

  21. Martin Nicholls


    "What next, cancel the F35 and carriers?"

    No because it's the answer to where the extra cash is going and why BAE aren't going to care.

    The naval air systems are going to be the future of how the UK projects military power. If you can't get aircraft through surrendermonkey [supposed] allies you can put them on ships and hit targets from anywhere.

    This is why we're building new carriers at a scale we've never done, that are intended to be competent inside US/UK fleets.

    If you start stripping away at budgets the MQ-9 program (through 39 sqn), F-35s and new carriers, and the absolutely critical trident replacement (in ascending order of importance) are always going to win out. Everything else can go - even if you get to the stage where you have no separate Army/RAF/Navy these programs will still be around because they enable us to look and sound like a military superpower even when we're not - in their own right.

    I'm not suggesting we'll ever end up being Belgium of course, but I'm saying these are budget priorities going forwards, because they're cheap to keep operational and you can do a lot of damage with them. I doubt the UK will be involved in many ground wars going forwards since the country turned into the USA circa 1974.

  22. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    More Destructive Junk for Fools and Treasury Bond Auctions

    "So the eurofighter is the result of a cunning Soviet plot to get Britain to bankrupt itself by competing in an arms race that it backed out of?" .... By Martin 6 Posted Friday 31st July 2009 22:14 GMT

    Don't be so ridiculous, Martin 6, the home team natives and their allies do all of that themselves.

    And is it not true that the new Communications BattleSpace of Virtual Networks InterNetworking Critical Infrastructure Information, which Edutains and Renders Hearts and Minds Supportive of ProActive Constructive Future Programs, is the New and NeuReal and QuITe SurReal Weapon of Mass Destruction against which the Military Warrior Industrial Complex have Zero SMART Bombes/Clinical Input/Effective and Protective Defence?

    And that Space does not require any Expensive Self Serving Hardware to Generate Personal Channels of Wealth and yet it completely Dominates Everything in All Military Fields? And only shared as a question so that you can take comfort in not knowing the answer.

    Top Brass Military know that their days are numbered though, and that they will have to deal with the Fallout which Knowledge of the Abuse of the System and its Expendable Human Resources may Bring to Guilty Hierarchies. And I imagine that there are Plans to be ProActive against Guilty Hierarchies so that they are Supported by the Globally Abused and Perceived as being SMART enough for New Power Controls Protection ........ which is actually an HyperRadioProActive CyberIntelAIgent Unit ..... an Advanced IntelAIgents Virtual Defence Phormation/IPForce.

  23. windywoo


    Currently committed to one war, we are out of Iraq (or at the very least leaving). But that's still one more war than we should have been involved in. You're right the politicians did lack balls, They lacked the balls to tell America to go fuck itself when they wanted our help.

    People like you who support the military tend to be the types to start fights, not finish them. This plane would not be of much use in Afghanistan and military intervention in that country has a long history of failure.

    Who would you like us to fight next? China? North Korea? Military supporters are always on the lookout for the next boogeyman so they can justify their existence and new toys to play with.

  24. Andrew Denton 1

    How soon people forget.

    Ok, there isn't CURRENTLY an urgent need for an air-to-air superiority fighter, but that doesn't mean that we will never will. Remember how we didn't need to replace the carrier fleet and then the Falklands happened? Who's to say there won't be a future cold war with the West and China, for example? Short-sighted cuts over the years will always come back to bite you in the arse.

    Perhaps if the government spent less on creating non-jobs in the civil service, PR agencies, useless middle managers and trying to interfere with every aspect of our day to day lives, there'd be enough to cover all our defensive requirements.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Original requirement was for...?

    Was the orignal Air Staff Requirment for a pure fighter or a multi-role aircraft? Because BAe had their Experimental Aircraft Program prototype flying in what, the early 1980s? And Typhoon is not much different from the EAP demonstrator. What has changed throughout the program's history - and has made for the continual delays - is the changes made to the original Requirement.

    So many of you remember that programs take longer to be delivered than promised but few understand that the "minor" changes demanded by politiicians mean major impacts on the designs. You cannot simply add the ability to carry and drop *six tons* of bombs from a fighter aircraft without understanding the effect that having one side weighing three tons more than the other will have on the way the airframe behaves. Add to that the changes made to include newer, more advanced technology that improves the product (ie materials and systems requiring less maintenance) and the way that politicians cause even more delays by demanding inquiries into why the work is taking so long ("Stop building that aircraft and tell us why you haven't finished it yet!") or by witholding promised funding and you might begin to see why Typhoon is late.

    Then add in the fact that it is not just a British project - and factor in delays caused when, for example, one nation concentrates solely on what *they* want rather than functionality required by all the other participants, even though theirs is only a subset of the other nations' capabilites, or the problems caused when a 'junior' partner decides that they want their aircraft NOW - even though some of the delays were caused when their Parliament decided to stop paying their share of the deveolpment costs for a year or two... thus requiring the diversion of some airframes from their intended recipients to said junior (European) partner.

    Finally, just because the Typhoon is "as capable" as two "enemy" jets does not mean you can get away with buying one for every two it may face at a later date - if you only buy a dozen and you lost three to enemy fire, hardware failure or plain old bad luck, you've lost 25% of your forces whereas the bad guys still outnumber you - but if they lost the same number, they now outnumber you by nearly three-to-one... and it's only going to get worse. In reality, the situation is even worse because we're not geting the original "dozen" anyway - so we're not at a *two*-to-one disadvantage, it's more like four-to-one and rising rapidly...

    If more of you had a clue about how the military is supposed to work, and the restrictions it has to work under and therefore how it has to work, you might not bleat so much about things you hardly understand. It's like an expert Programmer being told his software stinks by someone whose total knowledge of IT is how to boot up Windows and browse for pr0n.

  26. goggyturk

    Will be used in Afghanistan

    "This plane would not be of much use in Afghanistan..."

    The Tranche 1 aircraft carries 6 LGBs and a designator pod - a heavier load than any other current RAF plane. On a recent exercise, they achieved 100% CEP and 65% direct hit rate using this kit, which is not bad for an 'austere' capability - a word that has been twisted on this website and others to mean something it doesn't. In fact, this capability is somewhat similar to what we had in the first Gulf War, which was precise enough to hit a tank or truck from 30,000 ft.

    However, we'll have the chance to judge for ourselves soon as the Eurofighter will be heading to Afghanistan in the next while to replace the Harrier, an aircraft that's always been overrated. I'm sure it will do pretty well, but if it does, I guarantee we won't hear about it on this website, or the Daily Telegraph, which seems to have a curiously convergent view on defence issues with this site.

    Or is that just a coincidence?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Folks seem to forget the RAF's primary role - protecting the country from attack from the air. That's what the Typhoon fleet is doing now, and although it may not make the headlines very often the QRA role is still an active one.

  28. Graham Bartlett

    RAF still needed, Typhoon not necessarily

    Air superiority is still good. Trouble is that it can only achieve so much, as Iraq and Afghanistan have proved - you can carpet-bomb the Swat valley as long as you like, but there'll still be fellers in caves with Kalashnikovs ready to shoot you when the bombs stop falling. And the existing planes, old as they are, are still superior to what all potential opponents have.

    Thing is, the actual "major assault" element of all recent conflicts has always been incredibly short. What's taken the time since then has been taking and holding ground from guerilla fighters. Air power and naval power are only any use in the initial "assault" stage; what's needed after that is foot-soldiers shooting individual opponents, avoiding shooting civilians, and generally making it safe to walk down the streets and run your life. Bosnia proved that air superiority means precisely nothing if you won't back it up on the ground.

    So faster air-to-air fighters is pretty damn low on the agenda. And a Trident replacement should be *way* down the list, because we simply don't need mutually-assured destruction.

    What we *do* need, and now, is more foot-soldiers, and better equipment for them. For $3bn you can get a whole lot of working helicopters, armoured cars, and proper body-armour. Some decent bomb-disposal/detection systems wouldn't go amiss either. They might even be able to afford a proper pension for injured soldiers too.

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Actually, you will find most people who have been in combat do NOT like it and would rather not get involved in it again. There is a world of difference between giving someone a leathering outside your local pub and having someone trying to introduce your internal organs to large pieces of metal moving at high speed...

    And regardless of whether people join the Forces because they like fighting or because they want to defend ingrates like you and your right to free speech, it is still down to the elected CIVILIAN politicians to send them in to do their job.

    Given my druthers, I'd rather sit and twiddle my toes on the beach than have to think about dodging bullets and IEDs, but since not everybody is as caring and peaceable as you, and feel it is acceptable for them to take whatever they want, when they want and from whomever they want, there is a need for people to stand up for those who cannot defend themselves.

    If you chose to walk around covered from head to toe with only your eyes showing, and not have any sort of education, and to be at someone's beck-and-call 24hrs a day then fine - but if you choose NOT to do these things, and someone tries to force you to do them (or, indeed, anything else that infringes on your right to decide as an individual - assuming you are competent to do so), would you not prefer someone to stand up to defend you rather than say "tough shit, Windywoo, I don't agree with what you want to say or do so I ain't gonna defend your right to say or do it"?

  30. not.known@this.address Silver badge

    @Graham Bartlett

    It's not just a case of how capable the planes are compared to who *you* think they need to fight, there's things like airframe life, servicability, spares and so on to consider as well. I do not know where you get the idea that our current aircraft are (quote) "still superior to what all potential opponents have"(endquote) - bearing in mind that Russia is showing signs of reasserting herself on the global stage, and some of the satellite Republics (especially, but not limited to, Georgia and the Ukraine) are not happy about it, and that nobody really expected the Argentinians to go for the Falklands in 1981, I'd be thinking long and hard about exactly who has what to throw our way, happen I were you (don't forget that the MoD employs people to come up with "worst-case scenarios", then ignores most of what they say anyway.)

    Air power is not, despite your suggestion otherwise, only of use during the initial stages of a conflict. While it will never replace the man (and woman) on the ground, air power can get heavier weapons to bear on the opposition than ground forces. It's all very well giving your PBIs heavy body armour, tons of small-arms ammunition and a happy smile to show the locals but if you need to get at a well-entrenched enemy fighting from ambush then there is no replacement for air power. Don't forget, too, that helicopters are part of the "air power" you seem to think unnecessary - air power is not all fast jets and fighter-vs-fighter combat.

    I agree that faster air-to-air fighters are not really needed at the moment, but don't forget that few aircraft are still dedicated to that role only - and when you're neck-deep in incoming fire, you want the Big Guns (or bombs and rockets as the case may be) onsite soon as possible. If you've got a ground patrol ambushed by a well-concealed enemy, you don't really want to send in more ground troops because there could easily be another ambush force waiting somewhere between the inital contact and your base - and then you end up with two lots of ground-pounders in the mire. Also, unless your troops are close to their base, it may be some time before relief can reach them - by which time it may be too late.

    While you have a government happy to claim for their everyday food bills from the public and give billions to propping up banks or overseas aid and all the useless programs they have created, you will never get decent pensions for our fightin' men. But to suggest that you can cut one part of the military budget to feed another part is wrong - all our armed forces need more money, not less.

  31. not.known@this.address Silver badge


    Why do you say the Harrier is overrated? It could be better, yes, but as a means to get steel on target in the minimum amount of time, it's quicker than a helicopter and almost as capable. There are plenty of stories coming out of Afghanistan from UK forces and US Marines who would rather get help from the Harriers than the other, conventional, aircraft like the Hornet.

    Tornados have only just gone out there (well, the last couple of months) and we don't have enough trained aircrew and "spare" airframes for Typhoon to be deployed there yet - and with the latest cut in the Tranche 3 buy, the war might be over before we do.

    Tornado can carry what, twelve or so Brimstone missiles, five LGBs or a mix of these two, but that isn't why Typhoon will need to replace them eventually. Heck, even Harriers can carry half-a-dozen LGBs or a shed-load of Brimstone (plus all the 'dumb' bombs) and put 'em where they need to go - it's only because the MoD (or, more accurately, the politicians holding the purse strings) don't want to pay the money needed to keep the Harriers flying that we haven't still got them out here.

    And the figures for hit probability, while impressive, do not tell the whole story. Don't forget that, back in the day, Valiant, Victor and Vulcan crews would regularly achieve the same sort of accuracy *without* the current generation of whizzo toys like laser designators and satellite (GPS) guidance - the Black Buck "fiasco" was caused by a desire to keep the runway so we could use it without too much trouble rather than any lack of ability on behalf of the crews - we proved we could get a bomber to the Falklands and put bombs down, and that was further away than the Argentinian mainland...

    I agree with you about the likelihood of (lack of) decent press coverage happen Typhoon does well in Afghanistan - of all the ordinance dropped to date, the only stuff that gets press recognition is that which ends up in the wrong place. Even then, journos have often failed to point out that the bombs hit where intended, but it was due to one local wanting to get rid of a rival, or ground troops hearing gunfire and assuming that the wedding party was the ones aiming at them and told the pilot to drop in the wrong place, or one lot of troops losing track of another lot of troops and not being able to tell the difference between "good guys" and "bad guys" that causes the problem.

    Not sure El Reg comes anywhere near as bad as the Torygraph though - even on Mr Page's worst days!

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